Mayor answers opposition to new 'gulch' development

- Atlanta’s mayor addressed a controversial redevelopment plan on Wednesday.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom released more information on the $2 billion proposal to redevelop a section of downtown Atlanta known as "The Gulch."

It's the 40-acre span between Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the federal courthouse. The plan would transform the gulch into a mix of high-rise office buildings, retail space, hotels, and homes. But the mayor is getting pushback from some people in the community and some members of the city council.

At one point tensions ran high when some people couldn’t get into the informational session. One of them was a former state senator and Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort.

“It’s going to make Atlanta and the region, to be honest with you a place that is not going to be a good place for working people,” said Fort.

But Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms painted a different financial picture.

“With over 40 million dollars of this transaction going towards addressing our community’s more pressing needs, said the Mayor.

California developer CIM group is apparently the first in line contractor to develop the Gulch Project which according to the panel of attorneys, financial experts and the mayor does not amount to a tax break for an out of town corporation.

“It’s not a tax break it’s can be more described as an incentive,” said Alvin Kendall, a consultant with the city of Atlanta.

Proponents of the plan would like to see the city move forwards as a world-class city and believe the new development will lead the way. But opponents said the city is moving too fast.

One of the hot topics under discussion Wednesday night was affordable housing in the new development. Developers said they plan up to 30 percent affordable housing, but some in attendance were skeptical at the meeting were skeptical about those numbers. That would include 38 percent minority and women participation.

Safety was also a major concern. The developers would pay for a new fire station in the area. But residents in attendance were concerned about an increase in population when there is a growing police shortage due to officers leaving for higher paying jobs around metro Atlanta.

“Make sure you have the priorities of the city which is public safety is in the charter of the what they are supposed to do, we need them to protect the citizens and give the police the raise that they need,” said Deborah Scott with the group Georgia Stand Up.

Planner said the Gulch Project could range in size from four million square feet to 12 million square feet, if internet retail giant Amazon would be included.

“If Amazon or anybody else decides to come and occupy some of that space, we could possibly get to the twelve million,” said Kendall.

One of the fringe benefits revealed Wednesday was the “Gulch” development would become the new home to Atlanta’s New Year’s Peach Drop.

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